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New Eco-friendly Thin Batteries Introduced for RFID

Thin Battery Technologies released two new batteries that are thin and flexible enough to be used with passive RFID tags in cards, tickets, and smart labels. The batteries boost the read range and sensitivity of RFID tags and significantly expand the startup company's product line.
Apr 28, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

April 28, 2008—Thin Battery Technologies, a startup in Cleveland, has released two new eco-friendly disposable battery products that can be used to power RFID tags and other items. The flexible batteries are produced in sheets and can be made in shapes and sizes for integration with various tags and sensors used in RFID systems.

The carbon-zinc batteries can be used with both passive (non-powered) and active (powered) RFID tags, plus sensors and other devices. The battery delivers power to the tag, which improves read sensitivity and range.

The TBT UT Series can be made as little as 0.02 inches thick (500 microns) and is intended for use on RFID transit tickets, loyalty cards, smart cards, and smart labels. The 1.5V battery delivers approximately 12 mAh of energy to tags.

The TBT HD Series delivers 8 mAh and was developed for power-intensive applications, such as real time locating systems (RTLS) and sensors. It can also be used in greeting cards that provide audio messages, patches that deliver medication through the skin, and a variety of other devices.

The performance -- and cost -- that Thin Battery Technologies' batteries add position the resulting RFID tags somewhere between low-cost passive tags and expensive active and RTLS systems, Thin Battery Technologies vice president of marketing Matt Ream told RFID Update. For example, battery-assisted passive Gen2 tags could enable many asset tracking and locating applications, with the added tag cost being offset by the ability to use standard readers instead of a more expensive active reader infrastructure.

The batteries are printed, rather than assembled, and are fully compatible with the European Union's RoHS (Restrictions on Hazardous Substances) and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) environmental regulations, Ream said. The products will primarily be marketed to RFID tag and label producers, plus system engineers in other fields.

Thin Battery Technologies was founded in 2003 as a spin-off from Eveready Battery (now Energizer). The company received $6.2 million in Series A venture capital financing in March, 2007. Since then the company has completed development of its next-generation products and hired industry veterans Ream (formerly of Zebra Technologies and Omron) and Pete Kuczma (formerly of RCD Technology, Avery Dennison, and X-ident).

Printable battery technology is proven and poised for strong growth, Thin Battery Technologies' president and CEO Gary Johnson told RFID Update. His market enthusiasm is backed up by research projections: research firm NanoMarkets predicted use with RFID tags will help the thin-film battery market grow from $15 million in sales in 2007 to $4.6 billion in 2015 (see RFID is the Future for Thin-film & Printable Batteries).

Other RFID-oriented companies are also betting on thin battery technology. PowerID recently announced a Gen2 RFID tag with an integrated thin-film battery.
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